DJ Broken Record’s Perfect Set
Penned by Cesare T, AKA Explosives 238
“Music has always had a sort of magic of its own. A magic that can transcend space, time, and even meaning, becoming something completely different in the ears of all that hear it. But music is always limited, as it never changes anything in our world- the song ends, and life resumes as usual. But, what if one day, it didn’t?”
~ The Storyteller
Chapter 1: Knock the House down
“Well, where the heck is he, then?!” the stagepony shouted.
“I don’t know!” the panicking event manager shouted back. “I haven’t been able to find him for hours!”
“It’s twenty minutes ‘till the event starts!” another stagehoof shouted from the rafters.
“Well, there’s no way we’ll be able to get him presentable in time if he’s gotten himself in trouble again! Where’s Paper?”
“Paper’s out looking for him as we speak.” the stage owner responded coolly. “So look; he either gets here in fifteen, or his stage show is cancelled. It’s as simple as that.”
Frankly , none of the other ponies there held out much hope for that. For DJ BR0’s very first big stage show, at Manehattan’s Santo Angelo Stage, he sure didn’t seem excited about it. There had been a lot of money put on this stage show, both in advertising and the crowds of dancers. In the increasingly likely event that DJ BR0 didn’t show up, it would undoubtedly ruin more than a few careers. Everything they’d worked for rested on that night’s show.
The DJ in question was, at that very moment, sitting in a heap in the alley behind the A Salt and Battery bar, his trademark forest green hat and goggles sitting at a jaunty angle. A number of sarsaparilla bottles rolled around near his hooves, much of their contents plastering his blond mane to the back of his neck. There was a reason he never broke his rule about partying; he always ended up like this every time he accepted a drink from a pretty stranger. He did it for the music, his passion and only love.
A wave of cool liquid suddenly drenched his face. He blinked his deep grey eyes open, grumbling about a nasty, salty taste on his tongue. He glanced up, looking into familiar eyes. The dripping bucket clasped in her hooves stood as evidence to the rude awakening he'd just received.
“Hey, big shot, time to get up!” He recognized the voice of his assistant and personal manager, which to rang loudly and echoed in his ears. He looked up to see her looming over him, despite the fact that she was a number of inches shorter than him.
“Paper Leaf? What are you doing here?“ he moaned from the ground. “And why did you splash me?”
“Because the big stage show is in twelve minutes!” Her voice had the same authoritative ring to it that it always had. He silently wondered if she ever stopped sounding like a Foal-school teacher. She was the same age as he was, yet spent most of her time trying to be organized, rather than having a good time.
“Twelve minutes?” he stood upright suddenly, perhaps too suddenly, swaying greatly under the aftereffects of the partying. “Why didn’t you remind me, Paper? How the hay am I going to get there in twelve minutes?”
“It’s only ten minutes now, ‘BR0’ ” his manager responded, reaching out a helping hoof to steady him.
“Paper, you’ve managed to get me out of tons of literally sticky situations before, what’s your solution this time?”
“Them,” she said coolly, pointing to the sky. DJ BR0 looked up to see four pegasi spiraling towards him in a fast arc.
“No, Paper, there’s absolutely no way you’re flying me there, Paper. Paper, please, you know my opinion of flying! I’m a unicorn, not a pegasus, for Celestia’s sake! I-I can’t stand heights! I was built for the ground, not the a-a-aiiiiiir!” he shrilled as he was picked up by the transport pegasi.
“Break a leg, BR0!” Paper Leaf shouted after him as she too set off towards the stage.
“Keep doing this, and I just might!” he shouted back as he struggled with his pickup. “Hey, watch the hat!” he managed to say to the pegasi carrying him away.
The Pegasi dropped the DJ at the stage entrance just five minutes later. It was fortunate that the cold night air had managed to sober him up, of sorts. The black-suited pegasi team gave a wave, and then departed as quickly as they arrived. He ran inside and up the steps quickly, sliding down his goggles onto his eyes.
Before he had even gotten on to the stage, he could hear shouting. Strobe lights flashed as he entered the stage floor, highlighting his silhouette as he approached his custom-made booth, specially designed to work with this soundstage. Magically created fog, produced by some of the most well-trained unicorns in the business, rolled around on the dance floor. The heady aromas of fancy smokeables permeated the air. This was it. His big moment.
He could hear it. The crowd roared his name as he began his set, ready to party and dance the entire night away. He could hear the booming bass and rhythms from the expensive speakers set around the stage. He could savor the feel of the crowd moving as one. He knew that tonight would be the night that he would finally play the perfect set- the end of the rainbow that all DJ’s strive for, a trance-like state that would wash over the entire audience and bring them peace and happiness for an entire week. Most thought that this was all hogwash and a fairy tale, but DJ BRO believed. Despite the fact that he’d never done it before, despite the fact that there was no evidence that it had ever actually been accomplished, he believed that he could do it. He believed in his skills as a DJ, that he could truly give the best a good run for their money.
That is, until it all came crashing down. Quite literally, in fact.
He had just begun one of his favorite mixes about the fire and flames of passion, leaving it on autoplay so he could take a short break. The DJ had proceeded to demolish a few energy drinks when he heard the word that triggered one of a DJ’s great fears: Fire.
“There’s a fire in the building! Everypony out!” a stagehoof shouted from the upper level.
This was what he had been terrified of- a fire. It would destroy everything: his records, the stage, his fans, everything that he’d worked for; gone, in just a few moments. He’d rather be damned than leave without his precious tunes, though.
He charged back onto the stage to find that the flames had spread to almost everything in sight. They’d completely consumed the dance floor and most of the outer exits and were spreading up the stage curtains at an alarming rate. Thick black smoke clogged the air, and DJ BRO thought he could feel his eyebrows burning off. Not at all concerned with an ancient stage burning to the ground, he ran to his table and tried to gather as many records as he could from his precious collection. As he did this, he heard Paper calling for him.
“Broken? Hey, Broken? Where are you? Shout if you’re in here!” she almost never called him by his actual name. She turned the corner of the stage and saw Broken digging through his smouldering DJ booth. “Come on, Broken, we need to go. Now!”
“No! I’m not leaving without my music. Hurry up and get out of here! Go catch the fire department pegasi and tell them to bring the big hose!”
“I don’t think you understand, Broken, I can’t save you from this one! If we don’t go now, I can’t say if you’ll make it, and I’m not coming back!” There was a loud crash somewhere nearby, and the flames seemed to jump up higher than they were before.
“I’m not leaving without them!” he yelled over the roar of the flames, stamping his hoof on the ground for added effect.
“Then suit yourself, DJ BR0!” With this statement, she ran for the fire exit.
Broken Record continued searching through the ruined booth, despite the flames continuing to spread. He’d managed to collect most of his most prized and rare records before the heat ruined them. As he turned to leave, he realized the immensity of his mistake. Flames blocked every viable means of exit. He was completely trapped.
“Paper? Paper, where are you? I’ve got my records, so let me know if you’re there!” he said desperately.
The heat was completely unbearable, and sweat had completely matted his long mane and tail. He broke out into a fit of coughing. But he heard something that bothered him even more: The Fire of Passion, the song he had played earlier, was still playing, even though the booth was completely destroyed and on fire at this point.
“Is anypony there? Paper! Paper, please! Help me! I’m sorry, alright?! I should have listened to you!” steaming tears were rolling down his face, but there was no answer.
He heard another loud crack coming from the ceiling, and looked upward just in time to see a large wooden roof support falling in a way that would surely brain him. He jumped to the side in an attempt to avoid it, but it was too late. It landed on his legs, pinning him there. His vision started blurring, and his last sight was the slowly spinning record of The Fire of Passion, still playing softly. Then his world collapsed into darkness.
News of the burning at the Santo Angelo Stage spread quickly, and it made the news two cities over. The princesses had even made official statements, and within a few hours the story was blaring from most every reputable news source that one of the most recognizable landmarks in the region had burned to a crisp. The fire chief later said that over ten ponies died in the fire, three dozen others received serious burns, and that any who managed to escape should consider themselves lucky to be alive. The fire was believed to have broken out due to an electro-magical fault in the ancient wiring, so no charges of arson were filed.
He awoke with a gasp, and sat up sharply in what felt just like a warm bed, and immediately looked to his left to find the source of the music he was hearing. It was coming from a small portable radio on top of the bed stand next to him. The tune, ‘Fight music for the Fight’, was one that he recognized. He liked it, and had even used it in a few of his mixes. Taking a better look at his surroundings, he realized he was in a hospital, and saw that his was the only bed in the room. At least he’d gotten a private room. He’d have to thank Paper. But Broken couldn’t remember at all what he would be doing in a hospital. There had been the stage show, having an energy drink, then… the fire.
That’s what had happened. It all started rushing back. But he still couldn’t remember what happened after he’d gotten his records. He wondered how he’d gotten out, and more importantly, where all his records had run off to. Whomever had rescued him from the fire must have them.
He realized he hadn’t eaten for at least a few hours, then he jumped out of bed to see if he couldn’t get some lunch. Suddenly, a searing hot pain shot up from his legs and eventually all the way up his back. It was like it was hardwired straight to his brain, so intense he actually yelled out loud.
This made him throw back the sheets of the bed to take a better look at his legs- he saw a very large burn stretching from his rear left leg to most of his back. It didn’t look incredibly serious, but it would probably leave a good sized scar. It must have been quite some time since the fire, as it looked slightly healed already. It covered part of his mark as well, making it really look like a broken record.
Apparently, someone had heard him yell, as a nurse came in. “Ah, is that you Mr. Record? You’re awake, yes? Please, don’t try to move. You could endanger your recovery!”
“Where are my records…? Where are they? They were probably brought in with me. They’re very important to me. Do you have any idea where they might be?”
“Please, Mr. Record, you’ve been unconscious for several hours. You need to rest before you get up and walk around.”
“No, I’m fine! I need to know where they are!” He was still trying to get out of the bed, but the pain shot up his legs again; he yelped, dropping to the floor in agony.
“Oh, Mr. Record, are you alright? Here, I’ll help you back in to the bed.”
“I’ve told you, I’m fine! Where’s my manager, Paper Leaf? She should have been here…”
“I’m right here, BR0.” Paper had just entered the room, and was carrying some ragged bags with a slightly burned record noticeably sticking out of one...
“Paper! You have my records!” He beamed a broad smile. “Give them to me!”
“Ah, ah, ah! Not until you talk to me first. Oh, nurse, I’ll handle him from here. You can leave now.” The nurse looked relieved to get away from an ornery patient as she hustled out the door. “Now that that’s taken care of, there’s something very important I need to...”
“Paper, I don’t care about what you have to say for right now! I need to see what could be saved!”
“Do you realize that you’re a fool, Broken Record? You go running back into a fire, putting yourself in great danger, for some records?!”
“Well, yes, I suppose it might seem silly to you, Paper, but...”
“They’re things, BR0! You could have died. Do you understand? Dead! No more stage shows, no more parties, no more mixing music, no more you!”
“You don’t understand, Paper!” They were both yelling now.
“Oh, I don’t, do I? Maybe you’d like to explain that, then!” she said, pointing to his burned leg.
“That’s nothing! It was worth it!”
“I’m not really sure it is! Why don’t you try to walk, then?”
“Paper, it was an unintended accident. But I'm fine!”
“You keep saying that! But I think your leg disagrees!”
This quieted BR0 down for a minute.
“You seriously need to think about your priorities, Broken.” Paper Leaf’s voice had become much softer at this point. She placed the record on the table stand next to him and began to leave. “Maybe next time I’ll just pull your records out of the fire and leave you behind.”
“Wait, Paper, you saved me? Hold on!”
But Paper had already left. Cursing himself for his stupidity, he looked over at the record that Paper had brought in. It was ‘Fight music for the Fight’. The radio was still playing that same song. It should have ended by now. That fact bothered him, so he proceeded to reach over and turn the radio off. As he looked, he realized it wasn’t even on.
He covered the speaker with his hoof, trying to block out the noise. It didn’t seem to get any quieter. He put it inside the drawers, but it was still as loud and still playing. Shouting in frustration, he grabbed the radio by the cord and repeatedly smashed it against the floor until the pieces littered the ground. But he could still hear the song, and it was looping on the lyric ‘the fight...’
“What in the world is happening to me?”
Twelve boring hours, and a changed room later, he was finally allowed to head home from the hospital, and was back at his studio apartment about an hour after that.
The trip back was rougher than he’d thought, even though the hospital had sent him home with plenty of pain meds. The trip up the elevator was even more difficult, as standing on his injured leg for any extended length of time was painful.
His apartment overlooked the entire city, despite it not being that large; it had a very prime location, central Manehattan, within easy access to the stage. Or, the charred remains of it, at any rate. Still, location was everything in property, and he’d prided himself on making an informed decision. It was rather expensive for such a small space too, and he had to forgo lunches for a number of weeks afterward to make the payments. But he never tired of that amazing view.
He’d just gotten inside his apartment when he heard faint music coming from somewhere inside. Cursing himself for leaving the music on the entire time he’d been out, he went into his bedroom in order to switch it off. Once again, he recognized the song, called Revelation. It was just an instrumental piece, but music was making him paranoid at this point.
The phone rang just before he made it into the bedroom. He rushed over to it, hoping that it might be Paper Leaf calling so that he could ask what she did with his records. He struggled with the complex earpiece before getting it to work. Phones were always such a hassle, and were still in the unreliable and expensive category. He constantly wondered why he bothered buying one, because the only other ponies who had phones were either extremely rich or those who wanted them for business purposes. Pretty much nopony outside of Manehattan or other big cities had ever heard of them.
It wasn’t Paper. It was just more reporters trying to get a scoop on what happened at the stage. And they weren’t being nice about it, either. He hung up quickly.
The events of that day continued to bother him. What was going on with this music? It had never happened before. He thought back, trying to find anything unusual that had happened before. Nothing really sprang to mind, until he thought of that record.
It had been an incredibly unusual purchase. He’d bought it off a friend who was moving to Camblu for some reason. It was incredibly unusual, because there was nothing on the pure white label except for the image of a pyramid with a large eye-shaped stone hovering above the top. Out of curiosity, he’d listened to it. It had nothing on it but white noise. He’d sold it to a record store pony he knew.
And now he might be paying the price. So, he decided to give that record store pony a phone call. It was answered by the third ring.
*Click* -Heyo, You’ve reached Upbeat’s Records. This is Upbeat. How may I heeelp you?-
“Yeah, Upbeat? Its Broken. I was wondering if you could do me a…”
-No waaaaaaay! Broken, you’re alright man? I heard you got killed in a fire!-
“Well, as they say, Upbeat, rumors of my death are greatly exaggerated.” He had always enjoyed talking to Upbeat. The chubby fellow had always had a way of bringing smiles to pony faces. Upbeat was Broken’s closest friend, and he’d actually been instrumental in introducing Paper Leaf to him.
-Alright, so you’re alive then, big shot. So what can I do yah for?-
“Well, I’ve been having some issues, and I think they’re related to something I sold you a while back. You’re well connected in the biz- you hear anything about a white-labeled record?”
-A white record, eh? Let me think… yeah, a few ponies who bought it returned it really quickly afterward. Said some crazy stuff was happening to them when they listened to it. It was getting to be more trouble than it’s worth, so I sold it to a guy who was passing through town.-
“Well, it’s really important that I find it again, because I think it might have something to do with the fire and all this craziness that’s been happening. Any chance you know who bought it?
-All I know is he was from Big Bayou, and he has a record shop there. So you know what that means, right?-
“No, Upbeat, what does…”
“What? Oh, no, Upbeat. Please don’t...”
-It’ll be wicked fun! We’ll bring Paper, we’ll have cider, apple crumble, my homemade sandwiches...-
-...and hot Hour’derves and cake and tacos and cherrychongas...-
-... with WHIPPED CREAM AND...-
-Errrr... I was talking about food again, wasn’t I?-
“Yes. Yes you were. And anyways, we don’t need to go on a road trip. Can’t you just give the fellow a call?”
-Broken. You’ve got weird mutant powers, and you need to get the record to get more of them. Of course I’ll help you.-
-Look, we’re going to get it ourselves. I’ve always wanted to go see Crocodile country, anyways.-
“But most Crocs hate ponies! Are you sure you can’t just call?”
“Aw, c’mon, can’t we just...”
-No. We’re going.-
“*Sigh* I guess I’m going on a road trip, aren’t I?”
-That you are, Broken. That you are. I’m heading out to the market tomorrow, I’ll see you there. It’s good to talk to you, Broken.-
“Yeah, you too Upbeat.” he said with a chuckle. “See you tomorrow morning”
So, that was it then. He knew that that record was the key to all of this. Maybe if he got it, it might set everything back to normal, because that’s all he wanted. He was pretty sure he was going insane at this point, but he figured that finding the source of his craziness might point to a cure. He figured he might as well call Paper too, while he was at it, to at least check on his records. And see if Paper was alright, too.
Three rings, and nothing. “C’mon Paper, pick up…” Then another...
*Hello, you’ve reached the number of *PAPER LEAF*. This pony is unavailable at the present time. Please…* He hung up before it finished.
“Argh, I don’t have time for this…” He’d begun to pace around the room. He hadn’t had time to change, and couldn’t shower because of the burn. He would need some serious rest before he’d be able to go onstage again.
Two rings... “Paper, pick up! I know you’re at home! Get off your flank and answer!” Then two more...
*Hello, you’ve reached the number of…* More aggravated than before, he slammed the earpiece down onto the ridiculous base.
“Well, I guess that’s it then.” he was about to put away the phone set when surprisingly, the phone started to ring.
“Hmm? Who’s calling ME?”
“Hello, you’re on BR0’s time. What’s up?”
-I’d thought it was you calling me, DJ BRO.- he heard the voice on the other end say. He recognized it immediately.
“Paper! You’re calling!” he was happy to finally hear from her. “Do you still have my records? And are you alright?”
-Well, thanks for asking, at least. Also, I won’t be coming in tomorrow. I’m taking a break.-
“A break? From what?”
-From you, BRO.-
-BRO, listen. You’ve been acting ridiculous lately, even more than usual. First at the fire, then that display at the hospital, and now you’re calling me in the middle of the night. You need a break, and I need a break from you. I’ve cancelled all your shows for the next month, and I won’t schedule another one until both of us can put all of this behind us. Goodnight, Broken. -
The phone gave an audible click, and then the usual tone.
“... sorry. I didn’t want to hurt you.”
Shadows darted and danced around the room as the massive doors slid open, revealing a thin pony with hair that mostly covered his eyes. He knew that his boss preferred working in the dark, claiming that he could hear better in darkness. Hearing, his boss often told him, was just as valuable a skill to hone as sight. He knew that his boss would be lounging on one of the chaise loungers around the room, or on one of the many large piles of cushions. Faint music was coming from somewhere in the room. Something classical, maybe Wolfgang Mozie, or Von Strawsburg. Not that he knew much about music, in any case.
“Were you able to get it, then?” an angry voice growled from the shadowy parts of the room. He traced the voice to a pair of yellow eyes, their pupils an unnatural slit.
“Not yet, Mr. Producer. But I will soon, as I have managed to track down the record to a record store in Big Bayou. My source also tells me that one of the affected is preparing for a trip there to retrieve it as we speak. However, we do not consider him to be a threat to your operations at this time, as he appears to be unaware he possesses power.” he said, slowly approaching the pile of cushions his boss was reclining on.
He thought he saw something flash in the dark, maybe a drinking glass, maybe one of the many grotesque trophies of the Producer’s successful hunts of magical creatures. He chalked it up to nerves, even though he had great suspicions that there were pony heads mounted somewhere in this room. This was less shocking when he considered that The Producer was most likely not a pony at all.
“I suppose that there is some good news, after all. Which record is he supposed to have listened to, then?”
“Ah, I believe it was The White Record, sir.” he said softly. “Also, on a similar note, I have been working on a lead on another Record, as well. It’s been relatively unhelpful for now.”
“That means that he has access to that power, then,” his yellow eyes flashing a darker shade for a moment. “He may be a problem in the future. If he interferes, make sure to eliminate him posthaste. In the meantime, however, continue pursuing that lead. It’s been a while since we last heard news about other records, and it would finally move us one step closer to returning them all.”
He noticed some motion from the pile of cushions, and saw something reach out and pour a drink. “Also, I’m going to be on safari for the rest of the week, and my ship sails in the morning; I expect to receive good news upon my return, Mr. Colton. Be forewarned, however. Even though you have been my faithful employee for four years, I still do not appreciate failure. You’re dismissed”
“Yes, sir. Your wish is my command,” he said as he stood, and then backed slowly out of the room, never taking his eyes off the dangerous individual on the cushions. He passed through the ornate double doors that were rumored to have once come from Princess Celestia’s castle itself, and closed them behind him without a word. He’d made it to the other end of the connecting hallway itself and was about to head into the record label front for the organization before he spoke again.
“Have no fear, Mr. Producer. I do not fear killing. I do not fail.”
End of Chapter One
Check back soon for a sneak peek!
--Dedicated to Phox Rellek, Nocturne, the followers at EQD, and the good ponies at Ponychan who give my fics the attention they need, particularly Vanner, who first reviewed this doc, and Trots McClure, who helped make it awesome. But most importantly, this is dedicated to you, the reader. I love you.—